OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Arkansas bullpen's streak of scoreless innings ended at precisely the wrong time and cost the Razorbacks a spot in the College World Series finals.
Reliever Barrett Astin walked Adam Matthews with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, producing South Carolina's go-ahead run in a 3-2 victory Friday night and ended the streak at 26 innings.
The Gamecocks (49-18) will play Arizona in the best-of-three finals starting Sunday looking to win their third straight national championship.
Arkansas had won seven straight games decided by one run.
"South Carolina did a great job of manufacturing a run there late to win the game," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I just feel bad for our players. They fought hard."
Tyler Webb and Matt Price combined for seven innings of shutout relief for the Gamecocks, who are trying to become the first team to win three titles in a row since Southern California won five straight from 1970-74.
The Gamecocks beat Arkansas twice in three CWS meetings over five days after winning two of three against the Razorbacks during the Southeastern Conference regular season.
Arkansas had ended South Carolina's record 22-game win streak in the NCAA tournament with a 2-1 win on Monday. The Gamecocks forced a second bracket championship game with their 2-0 win on Thursday.
"I knew it was going to be tight and it didn't surprise me it ended up being a one-run game," Van Horn said. "Hats off to the pitchers, I thought they did a great job. I thought they filled up the zone all night long."
The Gamecocks erased a 2-0 deficit in the fifth, with Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale walking Christian Walker with the bases loaded to force in the tying run. Baxendale had a career-high five walks.
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